General elections in South Africa are among the major political events of 2019, important for the African continent and the entire world. The African National Congress (ANC), the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were key competitors in this event.

The winning party will enjoy the right to designate the President of the country.

After processing 98.73% of the ballots, the votes were distributed as follows:

The ANC wins with 57.66% of votes, the DA ranks the second with 20.69% of the vote, and EFF is the third with 10.67% of votes. Other parties gained 3.5% at the most. This means that the party leader Cyril Ramaphosa will keep the presidential seat for the next 5 years. Notably that the result of the ruling party declines with every subsequent election (69% in 2004, 65% in 2009, and 62% in 2014). The latest election results (multi-level) strongly correlate with the racial composition and living standard of the population: the DA is largely supported in the South-West of the country, particularly, in the Western Cape province, where the black population makes up only a quarter of the total.

However, rising popularity of the Democrats has other factors as well: fatigue from the old elite and the ruling party, corruption scandals within the ANC, slow economic development lead to the declined credibility of pro-regime politicians.

Similar processes are observed in many African countries with authoritarian regimes. These are studied by the International Anticrisis Center (IAC) and at present the IAC enters the global market of Pan-African consulting services.

The IAC specialists implemented several successful research and consulting projects in Nigeria, Cameroon, the DRC, and Madagascar. The most recent project involved monitoring and analytical studies in the Republic of South Africa, where the IAC expert group has been conducting research since October 2018.

The pre-project stage included the analysis of the political and socio-economic situation in the country, analysis of the main documents and legal acts (electoral legislation, available campaign strategies of the election participants, etc.), as well as drafting recommendations to the government on such issues as unemployment, migration and other important areas of managing public life.

The research was aimed at providing an objective and unbiased overview of the socio-political situation in the country in the run-up to the National and provincial elections.

In line with the adopted principles of unbiased position and non-interference, the IAC has cooperated with all stakeholders. We have made contacts with representatives of business, NGOs, academic circles, established channels of communication with members of Parliament and major parties (the African National Congress, the Democratic Alliance, the Economic Freedom Fighters) competing for seats in the Parliament and influence in the provinces, as well as with representatives of youth movements.

The field studies were conducted with participation of experts from partner organization AFRIC (Association for free research and international cooperation), which carries out research in various countries of the African continent. We have collected data on the behavior of population and participants in the elections, both offline and online. The observers analyzed campaigning of the three largest and the newcomer parties, as well as of those that could expect a small number of seats in the Parliament or have local influence in certain provinces.

We have studied the parties’ media strategy, media coverage of party activities, their behavior towards each other, and the dissemination of materials in online media, social networks, and messengers. Throughout the whole period of the South African mission, we performed daily monitoring of the agenda, behavior of party leaders, officials, big businessmen, and influential media persons.

To predict the election results, the IAC analyzed the DA kick-off voter registration campaign and made risk assessment in the course of the ANC election campaign. Also with this purpose, the AFRIC experts conducted a survey of 2,249 respondents across all 9 provinces of South Africa in October 2018 and a national survey of 1,501 respondents in February 2019. More than 120 expert interviews have been carried out and over 50 focus groups have been studied through the entire period.

Data analysis revealed the specific features in population behavior and preferences, according to which the electorate was subdivided into the following groups:

1) Based on age:

Youth (18-29) (5.7 million voters)

Middle adulthood (30-59) (16.3 million voters)

Elderly (>60) (4.7 million voters)

2) Based on income:

Poor (65%)

Socially unprotected (10%)

Middle class (20%)

Elite (5%)

3) Based on the place of residence:

City

Suburbs

Village

Each of these groups was studied separately.

The survey data indicated that, as of February 2019, votes could have been distributed as follows: ANC – around 58%, DA – 9.8%, EFF – 16.7%, IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party) – about 1%, other parties combined – 2.6%. Not sure – 11.9%.

Based on the in-house analytics and publicly available data, by April 9, the IAC experts predicted the ANC winning with 55-59% of the vote and the DA to be the second, by preliminary estimates, with about 20% of votes.

According to our data, the DA campaigning upsurge in the last weeks prior to the voting day succeeded in getting support from the previously uncertain voters (11.9%, by February). The protests and rallies that swept South Africa a month before the elections, though being not large-scale, occupied a considerable share of the news agenda. In our opinion, this, together with the wide range of applied electoral technologies, also contributed to the redistribution of votes; in particular, to the lowered support to the EFF and the ANC. Eventually, the EFF votes “went” to other minor patriotic parties.

Thus, the IAC study made possible predicting the outcome of the South African elections, as confirmed by the preliminary voting results, adequate enough to assess the overall situation.

A press conference was held following results of the research, the outreach information for the general public and participants in the political process was published in various media (Deutsche Welle, NEWS24, BussinessTech, Polity, All Africa, Briefly, etc).

From the very beginning of the South Africa mission, these data were available to all stakeholders who collaborated with the experts, including the ANC party, which, according to our experts’ forecasts and the election results, lost the greatest number of votes compared with its competitors and became an outsider.

Nevertheless, by making use of the IAC research findings, the ANC was able to raise its position from 46% (October 2018, a drop of the party’s rating after corruption scandals) to 58% (February 2019) and keep this result throughout the campaigning period, against stirring criticisms from the DA, thus remaining in power.

The data of sociological studies, as well as recommendations on public rhetoric and improving communication with the population were forwarded to the government of the Republic. The forecasts developed by the IAC proved to be far more accurate, as compared with those of competitors – research organizations from other countries that also worked at the South African elections.

The IAC will further keep to the principles of non-interference in the electoral and political processes when studying the socio-political situation in the countries subjected to influence of foreign organizations that often provoke the development of crisis situations. The IAC will focus its efforts on eliminating the interference of foreign states in the domestic affairs and democratic processes of the sovereign countries.

Detailed description of research and facts supporting the IAC mission conclusions will be presented in the full South Africa activity report and will be published on our website when the official general elections results are announced.